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LETTERS—Labour Party members on the streets against racism

This article is over 3 years, 11 months old
Issue 2615
Some of the crowd on the Free Tommy demo in June
Some of the crowd on the “Free Tommy” demo in June (Pic: Guy Smallman)

I went to Scarborough & Whitby Labour Party’s recent election campaign launch to ask parliamentary candidate Hugo Fearnley to help build the local movement against racism and fascism.

Both Fearnley and the Labour Party national chair Ian Lavery stressed the need to take on far right mobilisations directly, as well as undermine the conditions that feed them.

Fearnley said in his speech, “The desperate attempt of the right wing elite to divide the working class through race and ethnicity is seeing a revival.”

Following a contribution from the floor, he pledged to help build a broad anti-racist and anti-fascist coalition. He said, “You’ve got to be prepared to oppose them on the street.”

Lavery was visibly shocked by the 15,000-strong “Free Tommy” demonstration in June and the violent attack on RMT union members after the smaller protest in July.

He stressed the need to tackle racism “nose to nose” on the doorstep, and to mobilise against the far right. “We have to stop it,” he said. “We know what the consequences will be if we don’t.”

These endorsements mean Labour Party members who protested against the far right in Manchester and York this summer can feel confident to ask their friends next time.

The stamp of approval means it is easier to build bigger rallies and think about music and cultural events.

But Ukip is galloping rightwards to revive its fortunes, and Tommy Robinson supporters will hope to hold mass demonstrations when he’s released from jail.

Our next local outing is York on the 25 August, when Ukip brawler Mike Hookem and Veterans Against Terrorism plan to march.

With the help of comrades in Labour we will ensure they don’t march unopposed.

Kim Hunter


Labour row weakens our unity

I find it frightening to see the Labour Party being tarnished with the allegation of antisemitism.

There is a serious threat of the far right becoming increasingly dominant across Europe and in this country. Many of the organisations are openly antisemitic.

It is imperative that we find maximum unity to face down this real threat. And the problem with labelling Labour as antisemitic is that it will severely weaken the forces that are available to us to confront this.

History has shown us that once the extreme right grab power, they will turn on other groups.

One of their main targets after immigrants, refugees and Muslims is the Jewish community.

Racist prime minister Viktor Orban of Hungary has already declared his aim for it to be a whites only country.

Jews may feel that they are part of the wider “white” cohort but the racist antisemites don’t share that view.

Supporters of Israel may feel afraid of a future Labour government that is sympathetic to Palestinians, but a much greater threat is looming on the sidelines.

The threat of the hard right is a much bigger danger to the whole of society than the sectional interests of Israeli policy.

When you attack Labour you undermine the very people needed to defend us against the neo-fascists.

Chris Ayton

East London

Hodge should join the real anti-fascist fight

I listened to the radio last week as Labour MP Margaret Hodge once again vilified Jeremy Corbyn for alleged antisemitism.

This week I am visiting friends in the Polish cities of Wroclaw and Lodz.

These cities have cemeteries which bear witness to the contribution that Jews make to the life of them. In the recent past they has been desecrated by antisemitic, indeed Nazi, graffiti and gravestone smashing.

It is not difficult to find antisemitic and fascist graffiti in the backstreets of Lodz.

None of it, I would suggest, was written by members of the Labour Party. The continuous attacks on the current leadership of the Labour Party seem to me wrong-headed in the extreme.

Hodge should join us in confronting the real and present danger of rising far right antisemitism both here and across Europe.

Richard Bradbury


Target the wider issues, not video games

I am saddened to read that excessively playing video games can now be labelled as a mental health problem (Socialist Worker, 3 July).

For a start, how do we define excessive?

A lot of people—including myself—play habitually because of social exclusion, and the stigmatisation of gamers as mentally ill does not help.

If we really wanted to prevent mental distress, we would tackle the root causes of social exclusion, and not its effects. I am sickened that we could be seeing a return to reading books, or even worse, playing cribbage and solitaire.

If someone is letting their life go to rack and ruin for the sake of a few hours’ play, then I agree that intervention is necessary. However I fully expect that the vast majority of gamers do not fit this profile.

Could we imagine a situation where people are treated for addictions to gardening, reading, or watching TV?

Absolutely not because there is a strong bias against video games which is rooted in the preconception that gaming is antisocial, and somehow harmful.

Andrew Gow


Discomfort at deportations

It was great to see the young student Elin Ersson refusing to sit down on a plane to stop a deportation.

Passengers were hostile to her at first, but then applauded her.

It showed there is more discomfort with deportations than we might think.

Lindsey Hale


Would ending EU matter?

it is true that the European Union serves the interests of capital, but it doesn’t follow that socialists should call for its abolition.

Socialist Worker says EU rules “aim to keep people from outside the EU out”.

Do you seriously believe that if the EU ceased to exist, its constituent parts would welcome refugees?

Derrick Hibbett

East London

Be consistent, Sajid Javid

May I suggest to Tory home secretary Sajid Javid in the name of consistency, that if he is in de facto support of the death penalty for members of Isis that he extends it to Tony Blair for the murder of one million Iraqis.

John Curtis


Breakfast for everyone

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the photos of parents queuing from 3am to enrol their children in a school breakfast club.

This is an important service for parents who don’t have much cash and everyone who wants to use it should be able to.

Janet Dyer

East London

Pay carers a proper wage

I read about how care workers lose wages (Socialist Worker 18 July).

I think it’s a disgrace, they must take this to the Supreme Court. Care workers deserve full pay during the night.


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